Development of a technological innovation capability assessment model: a case study of manufacturing SMEs in Sialkot, Pakistan

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy

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Abstract

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play an important part in the economy of any country. Initially, a flat management hierarchy, quick response to market changes and cost competitiveness were seen as the competitive characteristics of an SME. Recently, in developed economies, technological capabilities (TCs) management- managing existing and developing or assimilating new technological capabilities for continuous process and product innovations, has become important for both large organisations and SMEs to achieve sustained competitiveness. Therefore, various technological innovation capability (TIC) models have been developed at firm level to assess firms‘ innovation capability level. These models output help policy makers and firm managers to devise policies for deepening a firm‘s technical knowledge generation, acquisition and exploitation capabilities for sustained technological competitive edge. However, in developing countries TCs management is more of TCs upgrading: acquisitions of TCs from abroad, and then assimilating, innovating and exploiting them. Most of the TIC models for developing countries delineate the level of TIC required as firms move from the acquisition to innovative level. However, these models do not provide tools for assessing the existing level of TIC of a firm and various factors affecting TIC, to help practical interventions for TCs upgrading of firms for improved or new processes and products. Recently, the Government of Pakistan (GOP) has realised the importance of TCs upgrading in SMEs-especially export-oriented, for their sustained competitiveness. The GOP has launched various initiatives with local and foreign assistance to identify ways and means of upgrading local SMEs capabilities. This research targets this gap and developed a TICs assessment model for identifying the existing level of TIC of manufacturing SMEs existing in clusters in Sialkot, Pakistan. SME executives in three different export-oriented clusters at Sialkot were interviewed to analyse technological capabilities development initiatives (CDIs) taken by them to develop and upgrade their firms‘ TCs. Data analysed at CDI, firm, cluster and cross-cluster level first helped classify interviewed firms as leader, follower and reactor, with leader firms claiming to introduce mostly new CDIs to their cluster. Second, the data analysis displayed that mostly interviewed leader firms exhibited ‗learning by interacting‘ and ‗learning by training‘ capabilities for expertise acquisition from customers and international consultants. However, these leader firms did not show much evidence of learning by using, reverse engineering and R&D capabilities, which according to the extant literature are necessary for upgrading existing TIC level and thus TCs of firm for better value-added processes and products. The research results are supported by extant literature on Sialkot clusters. Thus, in sum, a TIC assessment model was developed in this research which qualitatively identified interviewed firms‘ TIC levels, the factors affecting them, and is validated by existing literature on interviewed Sialkot clusters. Further, the research gives policy level recommendations for TIC and thus TCs upgrading at firm and cluster level for targeting better value-added markets.

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Original languageEnglish
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Award date15 Feb 2016

    Keywords

  • technological capabilities, technological innovation capability models, SMEs, developing country, cluster, Sialkot, Pakistan

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